To canoe or to Kayak?

I’ve been Kayak fishing from a tarpon 120 for several years. I’m 5’11 and 280lbs. I’ve had both knee and back operations, but I’m fairly agile inspite of all this. Anyway, my question as non-directional as it may be, is: lately I’ve been considering switching to a canoe for the simple reason of getting in and out. Some of the things that I’m concerned about: The canoe won’t have a rudder system, which I love on the kayak for direction while drift fishing. I also understand that canoe’s tend to get caught in the wind on lakes and are more tippy. Does anyone have any thoughts on this subject?

Boats don’t tip, people tip them!

– Last Updated: May-09-07 7:39 AM EST –

With that said,
As both a canoe paddler and a kayak paddler you are right, I would much rather be in my kayak on a windy day on the lake rather than in the canoe.
If you want a rudder you can very easily put one on a canoe.
I bought a used Penobscot two years ago that was outfitted for sailing, and it had a nice rudder bracket attached to it.
You could rig it so that it operates either by your feet from where you are sitting or by your hands.
If you alresdy have the kayak why not just keep it and pick up a canoe. Then you will have the best of both worlds


Or get a Tarpon 160 and
mount/dismount in 2’ of water. I have 2 canoes and some are much less affected by the wind than others.

Best of both worlds
I’m with JackL. I canoe with my wife (she won’t get in a kayak) and I paddle the kayak, otherwise. I have really enjoyed learning the nuances of paddling a canoe. The variety is great.

Why do you think a canoe would be easier to enter/exit than a SOT kayak?

Just curious – I know someone with knee trouble who’s looking at boats and wondering the same thing.

To Canoe or to kayak
I’ve tried entering my Tarpon from slippery boat ramps and while I have never gone in the water, I thought there might be a first time. With a canoe, I would think that I should be able to get enough of a foot hold to get in and shove off without having people take bets on me getting wet. Also, from time to time one must pull over and get out due to too much liquid. In doing this, I’ve many times found the only location is a two foot drop off to get to the bank. If you’ve never tried this without getting soaked, you just don’t know what you’re missing. I could be completely mistaken in my belief of being drier in a canoe??

Why do you think a canoe would be easier to enter/exit than a SOT kayak?

Just curious – I know someone with knee trouble who’s looking at boats and wondering the same thing.

large number of choices.
Your preferences in boat are probably not unique. I strongly suspect that some manufacuture has considered the qualities that are more important to you. I am astounded at the variety of hull shapes and boat types out there. The line between canoes and kayaks is definatly blurred by some of these designs. Happy hunting.

Two boats I’d suggest you look at
are the Native Watercraft Ultimate, essentially a canoe, but designed for flats fishing, and the Mad River Synergy. the Synergy, a new boat with an old name, is a hybrid canoe/kayak type. It too offers stability. The Ultimate comes in 12 and 14 foot lengths and is getting great reviews as a fishing craft:

The Synergy hasn’t generated a lot of traffic yet, but deserves consideration. Two main differences between it and a SOT is it has no scupper holes and no hatches.

I agree with your main concern about
getting in and out, as getting in and out of my canoes is easier than getting in and out of my SOT.

That is only because the seat level is lower to the ground/water level in the SOT, and in most canoes the higher seat height will be a disadvantage for stability.

My canoes spend more time on the racks, and the SOT is more often in the water due to its advantages.

The new designs mentioned above would be a good compromise, although if you do want to go with a canoe, I’d suggest one with a minimum of freeboard that will handle what you want to do. Best way to say that is not to go with a tripper style canoe that is guaranteed to have high sides.

Good luck, and Happy Paddling!

…$.01 more.

– Last Updated: May-09-07 8:17 PM EST –

As mentioned, go with whatever you can do best. But imho...only until you elevate your paddling/control skills will you find which you enjoy more and are better at... As your skills change, so might your addictions....

nothing wrong with a canoe
As one who “graduated” from kayaks to canoes I think all in all, the pluses far outweight the minuses.

Sure, I find it fun to put my derriere in a butt-boat from time-to-time and revel at their speed and responsiveness.

The trade-off, however, is in comfort. You haven’t lived until you’ve watched a paddling group of 50-somethings extract themselves from their butt-boats as it’s a pure delight to watch their pained faces as they essentially flop onto the ground like dying seals!

And don’t forget that there IS a reason why no one ever needs to take lessons to learn how to get in and out of a canoe!

You might want to think of your kayak as a sports car but now that you’ve reached an age where getting in an out is a problem, moving up to a sports coupe (i.e. canoe) is not only logical, but smart.

Just shop carefully for your sports coupe, lest you end up with the equivalent of a Ford LTD Station Wagon!

As an added bonus, canoes are not decked, which makes them easier to lift and carry.

A couple of other factors are
1. Your Tarpon 120 appears to have footpegs for

foot placement. Those could be very difficult to

adjust underway, so you really do not have much

flexibility in your leg positioning.

If you were to trade into an SOT that has the molded

foot cups for foot rests, you could move your feet into different cups every 10 or 15 minutes.

This leg position difference will greatly reduce the buildup of stiffness in your legs,

and especially your knees, and will benefit your spinal system.

2. The butt seat is typical hard plastic, and the back rest is minimal minimal.

There are many seats for SOTs that can make you more comfortable all around.

I like the Crazy Creek Air III high back seat for SOTs, which I reviewed, although others will work.

Lots to think about…

I fish out of my solo canoe and also fish out of my kayak. I don’t particularly like fishing in an exposed section of the bay in big wind in either the kayak or canoe. Are you going to fish in a lake that may have islands that you can get to fish in the lee of some of them? This may be a determining factor.

I have had the unfortunate experience of fishing out of a few recreational tandem canoes and hated canoeing and fishing from them. It wasn’t until I discovered well designed solo canoes which have as much freeboard as some of the SOT’s now on the market, that I began to enjoy fishing out of a canoe more than my kayak. Both have their plus and minuses depending on where you fish.

That said, you really do need to check out what solo canoe can handle your weight and gear safely. Another thing you can do to increase stability in a solo canoe is to lower the seat and install a footbrace. Additionally, installing partial covers at bow and stern really will help with high wind situations and make it more like a kayak. Although, you miss what the canoe is best at which is access to your gear and cooler.

I will admit, I miss the rudder most when fishing out of a canoe. But the comfort, ease of getting in/out and access to gear outweigh the rudder issue I just use the paddle to correct drift.

To fish in our coastal areas exposed to higher seas and wind, I’ll bring my kayak with.

Because a paddler sits or kneels with their butt elevated in a canoe many people find getting in and out of a canoe easier than a kayak. Open canoes are more affected by wind than kayaks as a general rule, but some models are more affected than others (shape of the craft above the waterline makes a huge difference). As to “tippyness”… that depends entirely on the specific model but also on the skill and sense of balance of the paddler. People have been paddling open canoes on inland waterways in North America for thousands of years. If you decide to go with a canoe a rudder can be mounted if you want one.

As I have gotten older I have come to more fully realize that a healthy diet, maintaining my weight at a healthy level and regular daily exercise are the keys to my sense of balance and my overall health in general. You mentioned that you are very overweight and have had both knee and back surgeries. Of course I don’t know you but I suspect your trouble getting in and out of your kayak and your health issues may be related to your weight problem and quite possibly the lack of a regular exercise program. I would suggest that you try to assess your true health situation and take action in order to live a longer and healthier life. You might want to check out this link as a place to start:

No offense intended, I hope none is taken - I wish you well. - Randall

While I appreciate your concern about my weight, I reviewed the attached chart and had to laugh. I am 15, maybe 20lbs overweight due to a medication, but I’m also solid across the shoulders and have been known to pickup 500lbs and walk with it,which is probably why I’ve had knee and back surgery. Thanks anyway!

Think about the SOT hobie Mirage
For fishing I love the SOT Hobie Mirage systems. Not only is the SOT easy to enter and exit (feet on either side of the kayak), but you can either paddle or use it’s peddle propulsion system to use as trolling. It has a built in rudder to keep you on course. The pedal system is an extra $500, but for fishing and alternative paddling, it is outstanding.

take lessons for getting in and out??
I have never heard of that one. I have seen lots of people flop around getting in and out of a canoe.

People do have a habit of trying to stand in a kayak before sitting down. Probably because people’s first experience getting in and out of watercraft is with a canoe. I suppose if their first experience was with a kayak they would try to sit in a canoe first then bring their legs in.

sorry …
but laying the paddle behind the seat with the other end firmly planted on terra firma is far from intuitive.

If you did figure it out all by yourself without any help from others (i.e. a “lesson”) I applaud you.

Glad I didn’t offend and glad to hear you’re strong and healthy. - Randall